Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed) - We Are The Mighty
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Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)

The KGB—or Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti— was the Soviet Union’s main security agency from 1954 until its break up in 1991.


Conventional media and entertainment paint the organization as the Soviet version of America’s CIA. However, a more realistic description of the KGB includes the roles of the NSA, FBI, and state media along with the CIA. Its responsibilities included intelligence gathering, border security, and propaganda enforcement. Additionally, the KGB served as the state’s secret police and was a military service governed by military laws and regulations; the CIA, on the other hand, is a civilian foreign intelligence service.

A 1983 Time article called “The KGB: Eyes of the Kremlin,” reported that it was the world’s most effective information-gathering organization at its peak. The USSR liked to keep things simple; information flowed freely throughout the agency, which avoided any hiccups that may occur between multi-agency cooperation.

After the Soviet collapse, the KGB was succeeded by the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) of Russia, which was in turn succeeded by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB). Although the KGB doesn’t officially exist, many argue that its mode of operation lives on under former KGB agent and current Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Case in point is the mysterious poisoning of former KGB and FSB agent Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko by radioactive polonium-210 that resulted in his death. Litvinenko and other FSB officers publicly accused their superiors of ordering the assassination of Russian tycoon and oligarch Boris Berezovsky. After being arrested and acquitted, he defected to the United Kingdom in 2000 until his suspected murder in 2006.

In January 2016, the BBC reported that Putin ‘probably’ approved Litvinenko’s murder after years of personal antagonism. This TestTube News video explains the KGB’s evolution and why it was so feared.

Watch:

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Every Coast Guard officer begins their career on this former Nazi sailing vessel

The U.S. Coast Guard is involved in a variety of missions since it began service in 1790 as the Revenue-Marine. It has destroyed pirate forts, landed Marines on beaches around the world, and recently captured over $1 billion dollars in cocaine. It requires a lot from its members.


And, for nearly 70 years, the U.S. Coast Guard has trained all of its academy cadets on a 295-foot sailing vessel commissioned by the Nazis, ridden on by Adolf Hitler, and originally named for the man who wrote the Nazi Party anthem.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Coast Guard Petty Officer Telfair Brown

The ship, now called the USCGC Eagle, has an amazing history.

Launched in 1936 as the SSS Horst Wessel, the vessel was always destined to be a training ship. The Nazis made her the flagship of the training fleet of the Kriegsmarine, the navy.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Coast Guard Archives

Hitler is believed to have rode on her only one time, but legends persist in the Coast Guard about where Hitler may have napped while on board. A sailor on the Horst Wessel in World War II, Tido Holtkamp said in a BBC interview that Hitler’s boots had nails that scratched the deck, but everyone was too afraid to say anything.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Coast Guard Archives

She served in this role for three years, but was sidelined at the start of World War II in 1939. For a few years, she was a dormitory for Hitler Youth. In 1942, the ship was pressed back into service with a complement of anti-air guns but they weren’t very effective. Hotkamp remembers an American bomber attempting to destroy the ship, but it only survived because the bombs missed.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Coast Guard Archives

The ship was captured by the British in 1945. In 1946, Allied commanders splitting up the captured spoils of war reportedly pulled the names of captured ships from a hat. A Russian commander pulled the Horst Wessel, but a U.S. officer eager to bring home the tall ship convinced him to trade it.

The ship was sailed across the Atlantic by a mixed crew of Germans and Americans. In American, she was rechristened the USCGC Eagle. It is the sixth cutter to bear the name.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Coast Guard

When the Revenue Cutter Service — a prelude to the modern U.S. Coast Guard — began training cadets, it had no physical building to train them in. Instead, it took it’s first class of nine cadets and trained them on the USRC Dobbin, a cutter. In 1932 the academy received a permanent shore facility, but it has continued to use a sailing ship as a major part of the training process for potential officers. Since 1946, the vessel cadets have trained on has been the USCGC Eagle.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory Mendenhall

Training for emergencies is important when taking a nearly 80-year-old ship across the ocean.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Coast Guard

Today, the training vessel also operates as a goodwill ambassador for the U.S., visiting friendly ports in the U.S. and around the world.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Coast Guard Petty Officer Sherri Eng

It has visited Kiel, its original homeport, a few times throughout history. She’s due to return next year to celebrate the 70th anniversary of her trip to America.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Coast Guard Public Affairs Specialist Bobby Nash

A few presidents have been photographed on board the Eagle. The first was President Harry Truman.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Coast Guard Archives

President John F. Kennedy toured her and later gave a speech on deck.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Coast Guard Archives

Future president Lyndon B. Johnson was there for the speech by Kennedy.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Coast Guard Archives

More historical photos of the Eagle can be seen at the Coast Guard’s website. To keep up with the USCGC Eagle today, like the ship’s Facebook page.

NOW: That time the Coast Guard captured 18 ships, and 8 more surprising stories from its history

OR: 24 historic photos made even more amazing with color

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A Former ISIS Hostage Describes Jihadi John’s Terrifying Mock Executions

Journalist Javier Espinosa described the horrifying experience of being an Islamic State hostage in The Sunday Times.


In the piece, Espinosa, a correspondent for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo who was held by the jihadist group for several months, recalled in vivid detail how infamous executioner “Jihadi John” would psychologically and physically torture his victims.

“Feel it? Cold, isn’t it? Can you imagine the pain you’ll feel when it cuts? Unimaginable pain,” the notorious militant would say as he tickled Espinosa’s neck with a long knife. “The first hit will sever your veins. The blood mixes with your saliva.”

“Jihadi John” also staged mock executions for his hostages, whom were often captured in Syria by the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL).

“Jihadi John wanted maximum drama. He had brought along an antique sword of the kind Muslim armies used in the Middle Ages,” Espinosa wrote, according to The Telegraph. “After finishing with the sword he holstered his pistol, a Glock. He placed it against my head and pulled the trigger three times. Click. Click. Click. It’s called a mock execution. But not even this terrifying intimidation seemed to satisfy them.”

“Jihadi John,” gained infamy last year after appearing as the executioner in Islamic State videos, including those where US journalists were beheaded. In February, The Washington Post identified the militant as Mohammed Emwazi.

An Islamic State defector told Sky News last week that Emwazi was the “boss” in the jihadist group’s hostage operations.  According to Sky News, the mock executions had a dark purpose: to make the hostages more relaxed for their ultimate execution videos.

“The execution rehearsals took place so that when the moment of death finally came, the hostages were not expecting to be killed and were relaxed to appeal for their release on camera,” the outlet reported.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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This Civil War general’s legacy goes deeper than a tank and ‘total war’

 


General William Tecumseh Sherman’s military legacy rests on a lot more than just killing the enemy.

Of course, he helped change how the United States would wage war in the next 80 years. His name would also later adorn one of the country’s most iconic symbols of military might.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: D. Miller/ Flickr

But the one that probably matters the most for today’s veterans was his influence on how to deal with the invisible wounds of war.

Sherman was a high-profile general and war hero who successfully overcame mental health issues to return to service and play the decisive role he played in the Civil War.

In late 1861, he grew despondent over his command in Kentucky, a secondary theater of the war. Knowing he was not well, he insisted upon his relief in November of 1861. Caught in the depths of what a number of historians believe to have been either bipolar disorder or depression, Sherman even contemplated suicide.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
General William Tecumseh Sherman (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

However, he would recover, and Gen. Henry Halleck would return him to light duty. Eventually he would be paired with Ulysses S. Grant in time to win the Battle of Shiloh. In the Western Theater, Grant and Sherman were two high-ranking “battle buddies” who eventually won the Civil War.

For today’s vets, his recovery without the modern understanding of mental health issues points to the important role that supportive friends, family, and superiors can play in treating the invisible wounds of war. In light of the recent suicide of Major General John Rossi, remembering the support that General Halleck and Grant gave to Sherman’s efforts to recover may be his most important legacy.

While his legacy of overcoming the “invisible wounds” of mental health problems is the most important legacy for today, that misses other contributions he made.

Sherman’s most immediate legacy was the introduction of the “total war” strategy to the United States military. The way he burned and pillaged his way through the state of Georgia, first taking Atlanta, then with his March to the Sea that took Savannah (near the present-day Fort Stewart), severed the supply lines for Confederate forces. The resulting logistics problems, combined with the bad news from home, helped force the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House in Virginia in April, 1865.

Eighty years later, Germany and Japan both surrendered, thanks to the use of that same doctrine. Whether it was the use of massed bomber formations, or submarines putting merchant vessels on the bottom of the ocean, Sherman’s concept of total war was in play during World War II.

World War II also saw another legacy of William Tecumseh Sherman. This time it was the famous M4 Sherman tank that was named in his honor. Prior to the Civil War, Sherman had warned the South that it was about to pick a fight it could not win – particularly given the North’s industrial might. In World War II, the Sherman was one of the most prominent examples of America’s industrial might – over 49,000 were built. They saw combat in every theater of combat, and were used not only by the Army and Marine Corps, but by the British, Canadians, Soviets, and Chinese. After World War II, they saw action in Korea and the Arab-Israeli and Indo-Pakistani Wars.

In an ironic twist, just as General Sherman warned the South prior to the Civil War that provoking a fight with the North was a bad idea, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto warned his superiors of America’s latent industrial might. Unlike Sherman, who left the South and backed up his moral convictions, Yamamoto implemented the desires of the Japanese war lords, and helped plan the Pearl Harbor attack. While Sherman lived to be reviled through the South, Yamamoto met his end at the hands of Tom Lanphier over Bougainville on April 18, 1943.

It is said that William Tecumseh Sherman was the first so called “modern general.” Given that his legacy to the United States military will continue to reverberate through the United States military and around the world, that seems to be a very fair statement.

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Turkey claims US will disarm Kurdish allies after ISIS defeat

The US has told Turkey that it will take back weapons supplied to the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria after the Islamic State group is defeated, Turkish defense sources said.


The United States has told Turkey that it will take back weapons it supplied to the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria after the Islamic State group is defeated, Turkish defense sources said.

President Donald Trump approved arming fighters from the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units in May – which is part of the Syrian Democratic Forces – drawing strong condemnation from Turkey.

Ankara said on June 22nd that US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis promised to provide his Turkish counterpart with a monthly list of weapons handed to the YPG, with the first such inventory already sent.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
General Mattis. Photo courtesy of the DoD

In a letter to Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik, Mattis said that a detailed record of all equipment provided to the YPG was being kept and that all the weapons would be taken back after Islamic State was defeated, according to Turkish defense.

Mattis also said that Arab fighters would form 80 percent of the forces which will recapture Raqqa, the Islamic State’s main urban base in Syria.

Once the mainly Sunni Arab city is taken, it will be held by Arab forces, the defence sources said he told Isik.

Washington and Ankara are bitterly at odds over US support for the YPG, a Syrian armed faction that acts as the main ground force in the Pentagon’s plan to defeat the Islamic State group but that Turkey deems a front for the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
A Turkish ACV-15 operated by Free Syrian Army. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Turkey’s concerns about the YPG were significant enough for Ankara to launch its own military operation inside Syria in August 2016, dubbed Euphrates Shield.

The operation had the dual goals of targeting IS and the Kurdish militia, particularly to prevent the YPG from controlling a contiguous strip of territory along the Syria- Turkey border.

The SDF – an Arab-Kurdish alliance formed in 2015 – spent seven months tightening the noose on Raqqa city before finally entering it last week.

An estimated 300,000 civilians were believed to have been living under IS rule in Raqqa, including 80,000 displaced from other parts of Syria.

Thousands have fled in recent months, and the UN humanitarian office estimates about 160,000 people remain in the city.

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The 13 funniest military memes of the week

Happy Friday! Got memes you want to see in the rundown? Send ’em over to our Facebook page. Go ahead and “Like” us while you’re there.


1. Tricky Dick knew tons of secret ways of getting the weapons clean faster (via Marine Corps Memes)

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Too bad those secrets were all in that 18.5 minute gap on the tapes.

2. B-2 getting up to attack speed.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Well, unless you’re where the democracy is dropped. Then you’ll see nothing – ever again.

SEE ALSO: 11 reactions to seeing your relief show up after a long watch

3. Know all those classes when you get to a new post?

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
This guy is why.

4.  This is what happens when no one takes charge.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
I always copy the guy wearing a PT belt. That guy is squared away as f*ck.

5. Future puddle pirate, right here.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
It’s not about the size of the boat in the fight – except when it is.

6. “Technician!”

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
She even looks like a new Air Force pilot.

7. A hero modestly explains his significance.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)

8. In his defense, it’s not like you stand at attention for it (via Marine Corps Memes).

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
It’s just going to be awkward when the machine starts correcting his position of parade rest.

9. The Nazi Air Force didn’t focus enough on PT.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
I’m just sitting here trying to figure out how you crash a plane without breaking the prop. Shouldn’t that have been rotating? Might be why you fell.

10. The driver is trying to find the button for JP-8 …

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
… and the PLT sergeant is inside buying dip.

11. How the Air Force turns new recruits into the toughest badasses on the planet (via Marine Corps Memes).

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Welcome to the jungle.

 12. Some branches kill terrorists …

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
… some branches pull drunks out of the ocean.

13. Well, doing PT takes, like, an hour a day.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Buying larger PT gear only takes 15 minutes.

NOW: This teenage genius created the best prosthetic ever

AND: 11 American spies who did the worst damage to the US military

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Here are the criteria that entitle a servicemember to the Purple Heart

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
(Photo: AP)


The web blew up once again today around something Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on the campaign trail. During a rally in Ashburn, Va. retired Lt.Col. Louis Dorfman gave Trump his Purple Heart medal, saying, according to the candidate, “I have such confidence in you.” While relating the story to the crowd gathered at the rally, Trump went on to say, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart, but this was much easier.”

While those who wear the Purple Heart Medal are highly respected, most troops familiar with the criteria that entitle one to it don’t “want” one, and a quick scan of those criteria illustrates why.

This excerpt below was taken from the U.S. Army’s instruction (AR-600-8-22), but the wording is similar across all branches of service.

The instruction reads as follows:

a. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of an Armed Force or any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after 5 April 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died or may hereafter die after being wounded

(1) In any action against an enemy of the United States.

(2) In any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged.

(3) While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

(4) As a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces.

(5) As the result of an act of any hostile foreign force.

(6) After 28 March 1973, as a result of an international terrorist attack against the United States or a foreign nation friendly to the United States, recognized as such an attack by the Secretary of the Army, or jointly by the Secretaries of the separate armed Services concerned if persons from more than one service are wounded in the attack.

(7) After 28 March 1973, as a result of military operations while serving outside the territory of the United States as part of a peacekeeping force.

b. While clearly an individual decoration, the Purple Heart differs from all other decorations in that an individual is not “recommended” for the decoration; rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria.

(1) A Purple Heart is authorized for the first wound suffered under conditions indicated above, but for each subsequent award an Oak Leaf Cluster will be awarded to be worn on the medal or ribbon. Not more than one award will be made for more than one wound or injury received at the same instant or from the same missile, force, explosion, or agent.

(2) A wound is defined as an injury to any part of the body from an outside force or agent sustained under one or more of the conditions listed above.  A physical lesion is not required, however, the wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer and records of medical treatment for wounds or injuries received in action must have been made a matter of official record.

(3) When contemplating an award of this decoration, the key issue that commanders must take into consideration is the degree to which the enemy caused the injury. The fact that the proposed recipient was participating in direct or indirect combat operations is a necessary prerequisite, but is not sole justification for award.

(4) Examples of enemy-related injuries which clearly justify award of the Purple Heart are as follows:

(a) Injury caused by enemy bullet, shrapnel, or other projectile created by enemy action.

(b) Injury caused by enemy placed mine or trap.

(c) Injury caused by enemy released chemical, biological or nuclear agent.

(d) Injury caused by vehicle or aircraft accident resulting from enemy fire.

(e) Concussion injuries caused as a result of enemy generated explosions.

(5) Examples of injuries or wounds which clearly do not qualify for award of the Purple Heart are as follows:

(a) Frostbite or trench foot injuries.

(b) Heat stroke.

(c) Food poisoning not caused by enemy agents.

(d) Chemical, biological, or nuclear agents not released by the enemy.

(e) Battle fatigue.

(f) Disease not directly caused by enemy agents.

(g) Accidents, to include explosive, aircraft, vehicular, and other accidental wounding not related to or caused by enemy action.

(h) Self-inflicted wounds, except when in the heat of battle, and not involving gross negligence.

(i) Post traumatic stress disorders.

(j) Jump injuries not caused by enemy action.

(6) It is not intended that such a strict interpretation of the requirement for the wound or injury to be caused by direct result of hostile action be taken that it would preclude the award being made to deserving personnel. Commanders must also take into consideration, the circumstances surrounding an injury, even if it appears to meet the criteria. Note the following examples:

(a) In case such as an individual injured while making a parachute landing from an aircraft that had been brought down enemy fire; or, an individual injured as a result of a vehicle accident caused by enemy fire, the decision will be made in favor of the individual and the award will be made.

(b) Individuals wounded or killed as a result of “friendly fire” in the “heat of battle” will be awarded the Purple Heart as long as the “friendly” projectile or agent was released with the full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment.

(c) Individuals injured as a result of their own negligence; for example, driving or walking through an unauthorized area known to have been mined or placed off limits or searching for or picking up unexploded munitions as war souvenirs, will not be awarded the Purple Heart as they clearly were not injured as a result of enemy action, but rather by their own negligence.

c. A Purple Heart will be issued to the next of kin of each person entitled to a posthumous award. Issue will be made automatically by the Commanding General, PERSCOM, upon receiving a report of death indicating entitlement.

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Russia is bringing back the world’s largest surface combatant

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Russia is in the middle of a massive overhaul of it’s aged, but still dangerous navy. | Photo by Mitsuo Shibata via Wikimedia Commons


Developed in the late 1970s, Russia’s Kirov-class battle cruisers are the largest and heaviest surface-combat ships in the world — and they’re coming back with advanced weaponry, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.

At more than 800 feet long, with a displacement of around 25,000 tons, the Kirov dwarfs any navy ship short of an amphibious assault ship or aircraft carriers. But only one, the Pyotr Veliky, is still in service.

Russian media says that another aging Kirov-class hull, the Admiral Nakhimov, is being fitted with Russia’s newest antiship, antiair, and surface-to-surface missiles.

Russia intends to return the Admiral Nakhimov to its fleet in 2019, at which time the Pyotr Veliky will be docked to undergo the same upgrades.

These include missiles of the Kalibr variety that recently hit targets in Syria from the Caspian Sea, Zircon hypersonic missiles, which are slated to be ready by 2020, and a “navalized” version of Russia’s S-400 missile-defense system, according to Foxtrot Alpha.

To accommodate these missiles, Russia plans to overhaul the ship’s vertical-launch systems. That contract alone is worth 2.56 billion rubles, or $33.5 million, NavyRecognition.com notes.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Aerial starboard view of the foredeck of a Kirov-class ship shows four single 30 mm Gatling guns (in purple), two pop-up (lowered) SA-N-4 SAM launchers (in red), 20 SS-N-19 cruise-missile launchers (in green), 12 SA-N-6 SAM launchers (in blue), and one twin SS-N-14 antisubmarine warfare/surface-to-surface missile launcher (in yellow). These weapons systems will be updated by 2020, Russia claims. | US Navy photo

As with all Russian military expenditures, outsiders have trouble imagining how the struggling petro-state will pay for them.

Though the Russian navy has hit several setbacks before, the Kremlin seems hell-bent on revitalizing its navy.

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5 reasons Route Irish was the most nerve-racking road in Iraq

Once dubbed “the world’s most dangerous road,” the 7.5-mile stretch from Baghdad’s Green Zone to the airport was called “Route Irish” during the American-led occupation of Iraq.


It was a fitting introduction to the country during the height of the war. For years, Route Irish was a trial by fire: if you survived the drive from the airport, you would be ready for anything.

 

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)

The Americans and British had a hard time controlling the road for nearly two years. Most taxi drivers refused to go anywhere near it and those that did sometimes got caught up in the mix between the insurgency and the occupation forces. It wasn’t just dangerous for troops; it was dangerous for everyone.

1. It was an easy target.

Irish was the direct airport road, connecting the International Zone (aka the “Green Zone”) with BIAP and the Victory Base Complex. Insurgents of all brands, from loyalists to al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorists knew coalition forces were based along the road and knew they would have to use the road and the areas adjacent. Irish became a magnet for bullets, rockets, mortars, VBIEDs, and hidden IEDs.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
IEDs collected by Coalition forces in Baghdad. (DoD photo)

Suicide bombers lurked on the exit ramps and road crews repairing holes from previous attacks buried IEDs. It became so bad, that by December 2004, State Department personnel were banned from using Irish and troops began calling it “IED Alley.”

2. The road was a bumpy ride.

All those explosive impacts created craters in the asphalt and littered the road with husks of destroyed vehicles. Besides making the trip seem like you were riding a bucking bronco for miles on end while dodging obstacles, the hastily filled-in holes created by explosions made the trip much longer than it had to be. The craters and garbage also made it easy for insurgents to hide IEDs.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)

Riding in a Bradley in 127-degree heat with little light and less air flow makes the 8-minute ride seem like it takes hours. Bumping your head on the side of this hotbox a few times will make anyone appreciate a foot patrol or IED sweep.

3. Getting aboard “the Rhino” was intimidating.

“The Rhino” was a Rhino Runner, a 22-seat bus with heavy armor, designed by Florida-based Labock Technologies. Troops, contractors, and VIPs traveling to and from Victory Base, BIAP, or the Green Zone had to mount up into the belly of this behemoth. Looking at this veritable mountain of a vehicle made the first time fobbit on his or her way to Iraqi Freedom’s nerve center think twice about whether or not they could conduct their business via email.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
A Rhino after an ambush along Route Irish (Labock Technologies)

In November 2004, a three Rhino convoy was ambushed on Route Irish with a 250-pound suicide VBIED that made a crater 6 feet wide and 2 feet deep. A dust cloud over 1,000 feet long could be seen for miles around the city. There were no injuries to the 18 people in the vehicle.

4. The road required constant patrols.

Eventually, Irish would be secured by American troops using concrete obstacles, Iraqi Army units, and taking control of the neighborhoods adjacent to the road. Until then, Coalition forces had to keep the road as clean as possible and remove the blown-up car carcasses.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
While on patrol Soldiers of the 1st Patrol Team, Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division help push a stalled car off Route Irish. (Photo by Sgt. Dan Purcell)

At one point, the Boston Globe reported the U.S. Army dedicated an entire battalion of the 10th Mountain Division to keeping the road as clear and safe as possible. This opened the troops up to constant attacks from suicide bombers, a tactic the military could do little to prevent short of destroying the car before it reached the target.

5. If the attacks weren’t dangerous enough, the Iraqi drivers were.

Because of the frequency and severity of attacks on American and other Coalition personnel (and sometimes sectarian violence) drivers in the city put the pedal to the metal while driving along the road. They so slow down for U.S. vehicle convoys because the turret gunners have no problem taking a few shots at a tailgater.

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
A Humvee in Sadiyah. The other side of the wall is Route Irish. (Photo by Matthew Vea)

Iraqis drove the highway at high speeds, veering away from the median (a potential source of IEDs) except when they were veering away from the exits (a source of suicide VBIEDs), and randomly weaved while driving under overpasses for fear of someone dropping something on them.

Civilians who wanted a ride from the Sheraton to the airport could easily hire their own armored shuttle service – for the deeply discounted price of $2,390 each way.

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19 photos of the crazy fire training military police go through

Lots of troops complain about the gas chamber. It’s stuffy, it’s hot, and trying to see anything through the mask sucks.


Know what’s worse? Trying to see through a riot mask while you are literally on fire. That’s what military police have to do to pass fire phobia training. Here are 19 photos of MPs getting hit with Molotov cocktails and other incendiaries in training:

1. The training is done to help military police learn how to control riots

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Army Sgt. Angela Parady

2. A major tool of rioters, violent protestors, and others is the Molotov cocktail

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Army Sgt. Cody Barber

3. Since improvised incendiary devices are so easy to make, police around the world have to be ready to combat them at all times

Everything you wanted to know about the KGB but were afraid to ask (because you would have been killed)
Photo: US Army Pfc. John Cress Jr.

4. Fire phobia training helps the MPs learn to not fear the fire, and to move as a unit when confronted with it

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Photo: US Army Spc. Bryan Rankin

5. This keeps the unit from breaking down at the first sign of fire, allowing police to maintain control

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Photo: US Army Spc. Bryan Rankin

6. Personnel hit with fire move from the flames as a group under the command of a squad or platoon leader

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Photo: US Army Spc. Bryan Rankin

7. Once they get away from the main flames, they reform their line and stomp out any fire on their gear

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Photo: US Army Spc. Bryan Rankin

8. Sometimes fire is thrown to restrict police movement, in which case the MPs have to advance through it as a unit and reform on the opposite side

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Photo: US Army Ardian Nrecaj

9. The training can be done with units of varying size and in different formations

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Photo: US Army Ardian Nrecaj

10. Soldiers can face the heat alone …

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Photo: US Army Ardian Nrecaj

11. … or entire squads and platoons can work together.

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Melissa Parrish

12. The military police often line up in multiple rows, so one force backs up the other during an attack.

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Angela Parady

13. The U.S. and partnered nations train together, sharing best practices

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Photo: US Army Pfc. Lloyd Villanueva

14. The training is especially valued in Europe where certain military forces are more likely to face off against actual rioters or protestors

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Tracy R. Myers

15. The trainees where the same riot gear they would have on for actual operations, including shin guards that extend below a riot shield

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Samantha Parks

16. MPs keep their legs tight when being attacked, reducing the gaps the fire can slip through

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Samantha Parks

17. But multiple attacks can still be overwhelming

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Photo: KFOR Multinational Battle Group-East

18. This is when the unit commander will order an advance or a short retreat, allowing the officers to get away from the flames

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Samantha Parks

19. Firefighters and medics are on hand to assist students and prevent burns

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Photo: US Army Sgt. Joshua Stoffregen

Now check out this video:

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6 times troops marched all night and laid waste in the morning

Turns out, the military is hard work. Apparently, sometimes you don’t even get a real break between marching all night through treacherous terrain and then having to crush your enemies, seeing them driven before you, and hearing the lamentations of their women.


These six units had no issue with that:

6. The 37th Illinois Infantry assaults a stubborn hill after 36 miles of marching

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Confederate and Union forces clash at the Battle of Bull Run. (Image: Library of Congress)

The 37th Illinois Infantry was maneuvered across the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, repeatedly, completing 36 miles of marching and fighting repeatedly in 36 hours. On Dec. 7, 1862, they were marched to a new position and most of the men fell asleep despite an hour-long artillery duel going on over their heads.

They were awoken and ordered against a hill with an unknown enemy force. The 37th hit it in good order and manged to take and hold the edge before enemy artillery on the flanks pushed them back.

Despite their exhaustion and weaker position, the 37th formed back up and held the line at the bottom of the hill, containing the Confederate units for the rest of the battle.

5. The 101st raced to Bastogne and then fought a multi-week siege against the Germans

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American soldiers rush during an artillery attack in the Battle of the Bulge. (Photo: U.S. Army)

When the Germans launched their daring attack that would become the Battle of the Bulge, the U.S. rushed to evacuate some headquarters from the area while sending in those who would hold the line, including the 101st Airborne Division. With the commanding and deputy commanding generals out of the country, the division’s artillery commander was forced to take the men to the front.

The paratroopers rushed into the breach, moving throughout the day and night and almost ending up in the wrong city due to a miscommunication. But the troops took their positions just as the Germans reached Bastogne, exchanging fire immediately after their arrival.

Over the following month, the light infantry in Bastogne held off the better armored, armed, and supplied German tanks and refused requests for their surrender.

4. American troops route Mexican defenders in 20 minutes after a night march

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(Painting: Adolphe Jean-Baptiste Bayot, Public Domain)

Near the end of the Mexican-American War, American attackers near the outskirts of Mexico City needed a way through the defending forces. One route was promising, but a force of 7,000 Mexican troops was defending it.

After the first day of fighting, a lieutenant found a ravine that cut to the rear of the Mexican camp and marched his troops through it. At dawn, the main force made a frontal assault while a smaller group launched from the ravine and into the enemy’s rear. In less than 20 minutes, the Mexicans were forced to retreat and other American troops were able to assault into the city.

3. Washington crosses the Delaware at night to surprise the Hessians on Christmas, then attacks the British at Princeton

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(Painting: Battle of Trenton by Charles McBarron)

On Dec. 25, 1776, Gen. George Washington led his men across the partially frozen Delaware River and on a 19-mile march to the Hessian camp at Trenton, New Jersey, surprising the Hessians before dawn and killing their commander as well as 21 others while capturing 918.

Just days later, British reinforcements had Washington cornered near Princeton. After nightfall on Jan. 2, Washington led 4,500 men through the night while 500 others made it look like the whole force was still in position. Washington’s men clashed with another British force and beat them, proving that the British Army could be defeated.

2. The Rangers march through the evening to attack Sened Station at full dark

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Rangers practice for their assault on Arzew(Photo: U.S. Army)

On Feb. 11, 1943, four Ranger companies set out with each man carrying just their canteen, a C-ration, a half shelter, and their weapon. They marched eight miles and then waited four miles from their target for full night to fall.

When twilight took over, they marched the remaining four miles to their target and attacked under the cover of darkness. Italian defenders at Station de Sened, Tunisia, suspected an attack was coming and fired machine guns into the night, giving away their positions.

Three maneuver companies assaulted the Italian positions while the headquarters formed a blocking force. In less than an hour, the Rangers were victorious and held 11 prisoners and had killed 50 enemy troops.

1. Stonewall Jackson orders a night march to surprise Union artillery with flank attacks

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(Photo: Library of Congress)

Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson ordered a few night marches in his day, but few were as important as the June 9, 1862, march at Port Republic that arguably saved the Confederacy for a few years. The battle would decide whether Jackson could send reinforcements to Gen. Robert E. Lee who was defending the rebel capital.

And the Union forces had the better ground at Port Republic. Their cannons were arrayed on a high ridge where they pummeled Confederate attempts to advance through the valley. But that’s where a night march by the 2nd and 4th Virginia came in. They attacked the Union guns, were pushed back, and attacked again with new reinforcements, capturing and holding the former Union position.

The Confederates held the ridge, forcing the Union to retreat and allowing Jackson to reinforce Lee at Richmond, allowing the war to drag on three more years.

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5 ‘Game of Thrones’ battles and massacres based on real history

Warning: “Game of Thrones” spoilers ahead.


  • HBO’s “Game of Thrones” includes numerous historical allusions.
  • Some of the references are more obvious than others.
  • “A Song of Ice and Fire” author George R.R. Martin has frequently expressed his own interest in history.

As they say, truth is often stranger than fiction.

That’s something that “A Song of Ice and Fire” author George R.R. Martin — whose work was adapted into HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones — clearly understands.

Related: 7 reasons the Night’s Watch is basically the French Foreign Legion

In one interview with author Bernard Cornwell, Martin even said that “the historical novel and the epic fantasy are sisters under the skin.”

So it’s not surprising that his most famous work is chock full of historical allusions.

Here are just a few historical references included in “Game of Thrones”:

The fight between the Starks and the Lannisters should ring a bell for any medieval scholar

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HBO

The War of the Roses might not have a terribly intimidating name, but it was a bloody conflict that sent England spiraling into disunity and chaos during the latter part of the fifteenth century.

The war was primarily fought between the House of York and the House of Lancaster.

Sound familiar?

Like their fictional counterparts, the Lancaster faction won the war after much death and scheming.

However, ultimately, it was the House of Tudor that prevailed and won the throne. They adopted the Tudor rose as their emblem, a combination of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster.

The Battle of the Bastards is a twist on a famous Carthaginian victory

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HBO

“The Battle of the Bastards,” which saw the noble-hearted Jon Snow face off against the wicked Ramsay Bolton, was one of the most raved-about episodes of season 6.

The numerous immersive, intense battle scenes kicked this episode into high gear for many viewers.

The whole thing also likely looked rather familiar to classical scholars.

That’s because the showrunners mirrored the whole clash on the Battle of Cannae, as Kristen Acuna wrote for Tech Insider.

That famous 216 CE battle is now regarded as one of the most impressive tactical victories of all time. After spending two years rampaging about the Italian peninsula, Carthaginian leader Hannibal Barca cemented his status as a military legend by surrounding and defeating his enemies with a much smaller force.

Ramsay’s forces used a similar pincer movement during the Battle of the Bastards. Jon was ultimately able to subvert the historical model and break free of Ramsay’s circle of death, with the help of reinforcements from the Eyrie.

In Hannibal’s case, the Roman legions were butchered, leaving up to 70,000 dead, including Roman consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus.

Paullus’ son-in-law Scipio Africanus would ultimately defeat Hannibal once and for all at Zama.

The Boltons share their habit of skinning people alive with an ancient regime

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HBO

Getting flayed alive is probably one of the worst ways to go out.

So it’s no surprise that skinning people was a favorite past-time of Ramsay Bolton — one of the worst characters to ever grace the small screen.

But this antagonist’s gruesome hobby didn’t simply come from the dark side of Martin’s imagination.

In fact, one ancient kingdom was famous for skinning its enemies.

According to the blog History Buff, the Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II claimed to have “flayed as many nobles as had rebelled against me and draped their skins over the pile of corpses; some I spread out within the pile, some I erected on stakes upon the pile … I flayed many right through my land and draped their skins over the walls.”

Yikes.

Westeros’ colossal ice wall has a real-world counterpart

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HBO

Martin first thought of the Wall on a trip to Scotland.

“I stood on Hadrian’s Wall and tried to imagine what it would be like to be a Roman soldier sent here from Italy or Antioch,” Martin told the SF Site. “To stand here, to gaze off into the distance, not knowing what might emerge from the forest.”

Hadrian’s Wall was hardly an imposing ice wall. And it didn’t protect England from scary, winter zombies. Construction on it began in 122 CE, ostensibly to separate the Romans from the native Britons.

The blog “The History Behind Game of Thrones” explains that the Westerosi Wall and the initial treatment of the Wildlings mirrors “the Roman perception of the native Britons as the ‘Other’ — a distancing strategy employed to dehumanize, alienate, exclude and justify ill treatment of groups outside of one’s own.”

There have been several Red Wedding-style attacks throughout the centuries

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The Red Wedding traumatized fans, and will likely be remembered as the bloodiest, most harrowing party to ever grace television.

A strikingly similar attack took place in Ireland in 1574.

An Irish chieftain named Sir Brian mac Felim Ó Néill ruled over the kingdom of Clannabuidhe and had previously been knighted by the English Crown. When he lost the Queen’s favor, he began to fight against the English invaders. Eventually, however, he invited Walter Devereux, the Earl of Essex, to his castle to discuss peace terms over a Christmas feast, according to Wayne E. Lee’s “Barbarians and Brothers.”

At the Earl’s signal, Sir Brian, his wife, and the rest of his family were seized, while 200 of their followers were indiscriminately slaughtered.

Sir Brian Ó Néill and his family were all subsequently executed.

A similar situation occurred in Scotland, during the 1692 Massacre of Glencoe.

Captain Robert Campbell and 120 of his men were given hospitality at Clan MacDonalds’ castle. After two weeks, a message arrived ordering Campbell to attack, according to Britannica.

One winter’s night, the soldiers played cards with their victims and bid them pleasant dreams, as usual. Then they massacred all the MacDonald men they could find, including the chief.

Another Red Wedding-esque incident — the similarly-named Black Dinner — went down in Scotland in 1440. Advisers of the 10-year-old King James II grew concerned that Clan Douglas was growing too bold and powerful, according to the Week.

These advisers invited the 16-year-old Earl of Douglas and his younger brother to come over to Edinburgh Castle. The king and the Douglases had an enjoyable time. Nothing seemed amiss.

Then, at the end of the dinner, the severed head of a bull — a symbol of Clan Douglas — was tossed on the table. Like the “Rains of Castamere” at the Red Wedding, this was the signal. Much to the young king’s horror, his two friends were dragged outside, put through a mock trial, and decapitated.

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Today in military history: Madison calls for Navy officers to fight the British

On June 30, 1812, President James Madison called for emergency commissions of Naval Officers to help fight the British.

Often called America’s “Second War of Independence,” the War of 1812 was sparked by Britain’s Royal Navy seizing American ships in French ports and impressing American sailors into British service. 

President Madison asked Congress for the young United States’ first declaration of war – against their former colonial ruler Great Britain.

Though America’s all-volunteer Navy had no trouble finding men to fight, few officers were available to lead those men. Less than two weeks into the War of 1812, President Madison sent out an urgent plea, asking for more officers to come forward for the American cause.

At the time, the Royal Navy ruled the high seas with powerful warships and an empire that spanned the globe. But the young U-S Navy wasn’t about to be bullied into submission. The 20-ship Navy mostly came out of port to raid British shipping lines but when the USS Constitution defeated the HMS Guerrière east of Boston, it gave Americans confidence that they could defend themselves from a power like Great Britain.

The young United States would suffer many costly defeats during the War of 1812, including the capture and burning of the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., in August 1814. Nonetheless, American troops were able to repulse British invasions, defeat Great Britain’s naval power — then, the greatest in the world, and gain an empowered sense of patriotism and self-confidence.

In the annals of history, the War of 1812 would be remembered as minor conflicts for the United States and Great Britain (who merely catalogues it as part of the Napoleonic Wars, and not even a war in itself).

For Canadians and Native Americans, however, it would become a decisive turning point in their losing struggle to govern themselves.

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